Combine review: Impressive depth at WR & TE

LSU’s Foster Moreau had a big day at the combine

Here’s our day two podcast…

The tight end class is deep

Here’s the best way to assess the 2019 draft. One area (D-line) is really deep in round one. The other positions lack legit first round talent. However, there’s really good depth in several other positions stretching deep into the draft.

The O-line class will provide options stretching into day three. There’s a decent number of receivers who could be taken between rounds 2-4. We’ll likely see three quarterbacks drafted early but there will be some players worth of consideration in rounds 2-3. There’s a decent number of cornerbacks with 32 inch arms. The only weak positions in terms of depth appear to be safety, running back and possibly linebacker.

The tight end class perfectly encapsulates the situation.

T.J. Hockenson is going to be a very high pick. It won’t be a surprise if he’s drafted between Jacksonville at #7 and Cincinnati at #11. He had a fantastic workout today and secured his place in that range.

After that? It’s possible we could see Noah Fant or Irv Smith Jr in round one. It’s equally possible they could last into round two. Any other player drafted in the top-50 might be considered a reach.

So there isn’t a lot of top-end talent but there is superb depth. That was on show today.

Hockenson, Fant, Foster Moreau, Dawson Knox, Josh Oliver, Drew Sample, Trevon Wesco, Jace Sternberger, Alize Mack, Kaden Smith and others impressed. Whether you take one in round two or round five — you’re going to be able to find a tight end.

There’s every type too — the athletic ‘big slot receiver’, the Y-TE who blocks, the players who can do a bit of both. With the league desperate for an injection of talent at tight end this will be well received.

The Seahawks are probably going to draft a TE at some point. Will Dissly is recovering from a serious knee injury, Nick Vannett is a free agent after the 2019 season and Ed Dickson is a veteran stop-gap. They won’t have a problem finding someone they like.

So what stands out from the workouts?

Firstly, this is a group who absolutely excelled in the short shuttle. In our big combine preview we highlighted how this appeared to be an important test for any prospective Seahawks tight end. Here’s a recap of the players they’ve added:

Luke Willson — 4.29 at pro-day
Will Dissly — 4.40 (8th best in 2018)
Nick Vannett — 4.20 (2nd best in 2016)
Anthony McCoy — 4.57
Zach Miller — 4.42
Jimmy Graham — 4.45

And here’s the long list of players who ran the kind of short shuttle that could appeal to the Seahawks (note — these times are really good and it’s unusual to have so many agile TE’s):

Foster Moreau — 4.11
T.J. Hockenson — 4.18
Noah Fant — 4.22
Kahale Warring — 4.25
Dawson Knox — 4.27
Drew Sample — 4.31
Jace Sternberger — 4.31
Irv Smith Jr — 4.33
Alize Mack — 4.34
Trevon Wesco — 4.38
Dax Raymond — 4.39
Caleb Wilson — 4.40
Kendall Blanton — 4.42
Isaac Nauta — 4.43
Josh Oliver — 4.47
Kaden Smith — 4.47

If the short shuttle really is an important test for Seattle TE’s — there’s no shortage of options. The names above include early and late round picks. There’s no cliff-face at this position.

Foster Moreau’s 4.11 short shuttle is the 4th best by a TE at the combine in the last decade. T.J. Hockenson’s 4.18 is the 10th best.

To put those numbers into perspective — Andy Isabella and Terry McLaurin both ran a 4.15 and D.K. Metcalf ran a 4.50.

What about the three cone?

Seattle has drafted four TE’s in the Carroll era. Here are their times and where they ranked within their draft class:

Anthony McCoy — 6.99 (#4)
Luke Willson — 7.08 (not invited to the combine)
Nick Vannett — 7.05 (#7)
Will Dissly — 7.07 (#4)

Like the short shuttle times, it appears they pay attention to the three cone too.

Here’s the top-10 times from the 2019 class:

Noah Fant — 6.81
Hockenson — 7.02
Kaden Smith — 7.08
Dawson Knox — 7.12
Dax Raymond — 7.15
Drew Sample — 7.15
Foster Moreau — 7.16
Trevor Wesco — 7.18
Jace Sternberger — 7.19
Caleb Wilson — 7.20

Only the three names at the top match Seattle’s previous preference. I guess we’ll find out this year whether a time slower than a 7.10 is off-putting.

Noah Fant’s 6.81 three-cone is the fifth best in the last 10 years. For reference, O.J. Howard ran a 6.85 and Jimmy Graham a 6.90.

It’s encouraging to see some of the ‘blocking’ tight ends impress in the agility testing. The likes of Moreau, Wesco, Smith, Sample and Blanton all performed well. These are possibly the players to focus on.

In particular LSU’s Foster Moreau arguably stole the show with an excellent combination of speed, agility and explosive power. He’s a tough, hard-nosed blocker who wore the coveted and respected #18 jersey for the Tigers.

Here are his testing numbers overall:

Height: 6-4 1/8
Weight: 253lbs
Arm length: 33.5 inches
Wingspan: 81.5 inches
Forty: 4.66
Vertical: 36.5
Broad: 10-1
Short shuttle: 4.11
3-cone: 7.16

That’s a really good looking athletic profile and Moreau is a player I’ll be spending more time on after the combine. Trevon Wesco and Drew Sample are the two players with arguably the best combination of agility and blocking.

Another couple of quick notes on the tight end class. Noah Fant had the second best vertical jump by a tight end (39.5) in the last five years and the fifth best in the last decade. T.J. Hockenson’s 37.5 is the eighth best and Moreau’s 36.5 the 12th.

Fant also had the ninth best broad jump in the last decade and the fifth best in the last five years.

This was a good day for the tight ends.

What we learnt about the wide receivers

Pete Carroll has only drafted two receivers who haven’t run a 4.4 forty or faster (Kenny Lawler 4.64, Chris Harper 4.50). Paul Richardson (4.40), Golden Tate (4.42), Tyler Lockett (4.40), Kris Durham (4.46), Kevin Norwood (4.48), Amara Darboh (4.45) and David Moore (4.42) all cracked the 4.4’s. Kris Durham (216lbs), Chris Harper (229lbs), Kenny Lawler (203lbs), Amara Darboh (214lbs) and David Moore (219lbs) were all +200lbs. Richardson, Tate and Lockett — the three most productive players — were smaller.

This really tells us two things. One — the Seahawks value speed and suddenness at the position even if you’re a ‘bigger’ receiver. Two — they’ve had greater success with smaller, quicker receivers since drafting Russell Wilson.

Here’s the list of receivers who ran a 4.4 or faster today:

Parris Campbell — 4.31
Andy Isabella — 4.31
Mecole Hardman — 4.33
D.K. Metcalf — 4.33
Terry McLaurin — 4.35
Emanuel Hall — 4.39
Darius Slayton — 4.39
Johnnie Dixon — 4.41
Miles Boykin — 4.42
Gary Jennings — 4.42
Ashton Dulin — 4.43
Jazz Ferguson — 4.45
Alex Wesley — 4.45
Dillon Mitchell — 4.46
Jaylen Smith — 4.47
Hakeem Butler — 4.48
Deebo Samuel — 4.48
A.J. Brown — 4.49

Jamal Custis (4.50), Bisi Johnson (4.51) and N’Keal Harry (4.53) just missed out.

As with the tight ends, there are plenty of options at varying levels. If they wanted to take a receiver with their first pick after trading down, that might be the range where Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, A.J. Brown or Deebo Samuel are expected to go. Emanuel Hall and Hakeem Butler are likely mid-round picks. Gary Jennings, Jazz Ferguson and Miles Boykin might be available later on.

Also like the tight ends — there are different types of receivers available. So if they want to draft a wide out this year there’s a decent chance they will have that opportunity.

The star of the day is undoubtedly Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf. He ran a 4.33 forty at 6-3 and 228lbs. He also had a 40.5 inch vertical and 27 reps on the bench press despite having 35 inch arms. He’s a truly elite athlete.

Practically every mock draft will have him in the top-10 after today. However, there are a couple of things to consider. Metcalf suffered a serious neck injury that ended his 2018 season and put his football career in doubt. He was recently cleared by doctors to continue playing but teams will study the medical info. If there are doubts about the longevity of his career, even if he can suit up in 2019, it’ll impact his stock.

Metcalf also ran a very limited route tree at Ole Miss, there are concerns that he’s too muscular and ripped and he had a number of concentration drops. He also tested relatively poorly in terms of agility — recording a 4.50 short shuttle and a 7.38 three cone.

A 4.33 forty at 6-3 and 228lbs will make teams forget about some of those issues but it’s at least possible he’ll last a bit longer than some of the mocks will project after today.

This report from Charlie Campbell sums up the situation.

I suspect today’s performance will secure Metcalf a first round placing even if he doesn’t go in the top-10. If he does last though — keep him in your mind for Seattle. He’s the type of sensational athlete they love to take with their first pick.

It’s no surprise Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin had strong performances. Campbell is a converted running back with explosive power (40 inch vertical) to match his 4.31 speed. He also has excellent catching technique, versatility and good character. He’s a modern day NFL weapon and could easily go in the top-40. McLaurin is an all-rounder who excels at catching, blocking and special teams. Both remain underrated.

Other highlights include Miles Boykin and Emanuel Hall jumping the second best vertical in recorded history (43.5 inches). Hall in particular is a player we sounded out before the combine. Here are the top-10 vertical jumps:

Boykin and Hall also topped the broad jump rankings with an 11-8 and an 11-9 respectively. Parris Campbell had an 11-3, D.K. Metcalf and 11-2 and Hakeem Butler an 11-8.

Notre Dame’s Boykin had a sensational workout overall and is practically a complete athlete. Size, length, speed, explosive traits, agility. He’s a player we’ll certainly be looking closely at after the combine.

Thoughts on the quarterbacks

It was difficult to get a sense of how well the quarterbacks were performing. The camera angle from behind the QB isn’t the best to analyse because of the lack of depth. On game tape it’s clearly the best angle because you can see the defense develop and a passer going through progressions. Here, in shorts and a T-shirt, I’d rather see it from the TV broadcast angle. Let’s just judge the arm strength and ball placement.

I think it was pretty clear that Jarrett Stidham, Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock had the best ‘arm talent’.

Stidham has long been a physical prospect with great tools. At Auburn he was essentially talked through the defensive looks and told what to do. At the next level he’ll need to make progressions and make plays under pressure. Today didn’t offer any insight in that regard.

Haskins looked a little bit like he was going through the motions. Like his tape there were good and bad moments. I’m not convinced he’ll be the second quarterback taken after Kyler Murray. Drew Lock also has the arm and had to do more with less at Missouri. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lock was the #10 pick to Denver and Haskins lasted to either the Bengals at #11 or the Redskins at #15.

Kyler Murray didn’t work out at all but it’s been a day of talk about him potentially being the #1 pick in Arizona. I’ve thought for a while they should take Murray with the top pick and wrote about it at the start of January. He’s the best player on the board.

Tomorrow is a big day. The defensive line class is the clear strength of the draft. There are a high number of defensive tackles, ends and EDGE rushers on display plus a handful of quality linebackers. It’s the big day at the combine this year.

There will be a number of star performers on Sunday but expect Dexter Lawrence to regain some of his lost stock. Today he put up 36 reps of the bench press (most among D-liners) despite having nearly 35-inch arms. I predict he will run an incredible time for a 342lbs linemen.

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  1. GerryG

    Exciting stuff!

    Thanks Rob.

    I would love to see one of those Ohio St WRs added to our offense.

    • Rob Staton

      They’re both so underrated.

      The good thing is overall — they can get a TE or a WR that ‘fits’ what they want at any point this year. That’s really reassuring given we already know there’s great depth on the DL and some decent depth on the OL.

      • GerryG

        For sure. Definitely alleviates a little of the worry associated with our awful draft pick situation.

    • Sea Mode

      Yes, please!

  2. AndrewP

    Stidham on Day 3 has always intrigued me. Apparently there was wondering around ‘The Plains’ about how much he loves football. From what I heard, his fiancé is insanely wealthy and he is taking up law school as soon as football doesn’t work out.

    Again, this is ‘Ferris passed out at 31 Flavors’ stuff, so, yeah.

    Anywho, there are things I’d hate more than Stidham in RD5-7.

  3. Eli

    Spot on take Rob. I’m looking forward to the analysis on some of these less mentioned guys now that we have an idea of their athletic profiles.

    Kahale Warring is someone who interests me. A quick background check on him shows he was a great athlete in high school – excelled at water polo, cross country, basketball, etc. – and is a relative newcomer to football actually. Walked-on at San Diego St. and earn a scholarship. Had a bit of injury problems and his production doesn’t jump out at you, which makes sense considering the injuries + just learning how to play tight end at all.

    Watched some cut ups of him and he lined up as a traditional tight end quite a lot, and showed well as a blocker. His route running wasn’t great, but his hands seemed fine. On his NFL Combine profile the analyst is pretty high on him as well. Hope to see you put a take on him if you have the time.

  4. H

    Wait so did Andy Isabella run a 4.31 after all? I did think he looked faster than the 4.56 they had him running.

  5. H

    My boy Tyree had some tough moments out there today, but he certainly wins the prize for having the most fun. I think Pete’s gonna be love his personality.

  6. C-Dog

    The very little I was able to catch, it seemed Jordan Ta’amu was spinning some nice looking passes.

    Rob, have you had a chance to look at this guy much? The bits that I’ve seen, he seems to me like he’s got a bit of a Dak Prescott vibe on the field, and from what I’ve been able to dig around on the nets, sounds like he has a really strong, driven and dedicated personality; two hands on the wheel type.

    If they don’t use their first pick on a QB, maybe not a bad guy to take a mid round flyer on.

    • Rob Staton

      I’ve not studied him fully. The Ole Miss games I saw he seemed to fly from hot and cold. Seem to recall he might’ve been benched in one of the games I watched.

      • C-Dog

        Yeah, I hadn’t caught a number of Ole Miss games myself, but remember watching a few and thinking he had a really nice athletic presence and pretty decent arm.

        Honestly, what perked my curiosity was the ThirtyFiveEight article you linked when referring to Grier and noticing that two spots below Grier, sitting just above Haskins, the chart indicated the fourth best probability for success in league from this class being Ta’amu. This had me doing a bit of YouTube scouting and what nots.

        I think there’s some really intriguing tools to his game in terms of mobility and throwing the deep ball that could lend to what Seattle likes to do with RW, and his intermediate passes have a nice efficient arch to them. The ball just gets there with a really nice release. He’s far from a finished product, from what I’ve been reading it seems like the draft community is a bit split on him, but it also seems like there might be some growing interest going on, like maybe the league likes him better than the draft sites do, as well.

  7. Rob Staton

    The day two combine review podcast has now been added to the article.

    I’ve posted it at the top of the article or alternatively listen here:

  8. Coleslaw

    I think there’s a lot of incentive for PCJS to draft another round 2 WR this year. If you’re gonna give Russell the big extension, you’d better be sure he has everything he needs to be at the top of his game. We can add a dynamic 3rd receiver(also future Doug replacement), a quality Guard prospect, a legit DL (or 2), and a TE they like. After trading down.

    If I had to guess right now I’d say we go best WR available, OG, DE, TE, DT in that order. Maybe switch OG and DE depending on which OL are still on the board. This should be a nice draft, I’m excited.

    • Rob Staton

      It depends on what happens in free agency.

      Giving Russell another weapon will be less important than filling a giant hole at LG, LB or pass rush if certain players move on. We need to let this play out really to get an angle on the first pick. Lots of options.

  9. Uncle Bob

    Darn fine job all week/weekend Rob, much appreciated. Beats heck out of the cookie cutter stuff most media dish out.

    Probably the worst draft in the past decade was ’13, so many just not quite up to it guys. This draft feels so different, as you call it, depth, but also workable talent down the line. This could be one of those drafts where the teams who are most skilled at the interview portion, and individual work out evaluations, will find a lot of talent to engage and develop. For the Hawks that means building the kind of talent pool we enjoyed ’12 through ’14, at the risk of being too limiting. I’m usually frustrated by the trade down scenario that passes on talent that seems near guaranteed for the sake of what looks like “the numbers game”. This year it could be the absolute best scenario given the range of talent available. Hopefully there are enough teams that are individual focused that JS will be able to leverage to our advantage.

    Rock on!!!

    • Rob Staton

      Completely agree — and thank you for the kind words.

  10. Zxvo3

    After seeing Terry McLaurin today Rob, do you see McLaurin falling to the 2nd Round where Seahawks can get him after trading down?

    • Rob Staton

      I wouldn’t call round two a fall necessarily. I think he’s likely to go in R2.

  11. Hawktalker#1

    About the same range as Paris?

  12. Dale Roberts

    Rob, did you know that Isabella is a Randy Moss protege? Do you think Campbell will last into the second round? What rounds you expect Boykin and Hall to be taken in and are they talented receivers or just really athletic? Thanks from all of us for the coverage and analysis. I’m sorry you have to sit through NFL network’s money grab.

    • Rob Staton

      I think Campbell should be a first round pick. He might not be and could be there in the 30’s. But there aren’t many dudes running a 4.31 at his size. He’s basically a running back size player who runs 4.31 and jumps 40 inches. Speed, explosion — incredible player.

      Boykin, on the limited stuff I’ve seen, didn’t look like an elite athlete but he clearly is. Can’t wait to look at more there. Hall for me is a mid-round pick with massive potential.

  13. Dale Roberts

    Just read an article on The Drive by John Morgan. Here’s the link:

    Essentially the message is that the combine is an objective measure while all of scouting stuff is biased. He points out that all of the players who reach NFL greatness have also shown well at the combine. So physical talent and a burning desire to play football is the ticket.

    Rob, how do you feel about the combine vs scouting? It is the combine more telling for certain positions?

    • Rob Staton

      I think the two go hand in hand really. I wouldn’t say one is more important than the other. I think you generally need to be a certain athlete to fit certain positions. Better athletes have better potential. And you have to back your coaches to develop talent. But scouting is also very important especially if you’re looking for playing style, attitude, habits etc.

  14. charlietheunicorn

    I keep coming back to Sample being a target for Seattle in the 3rd round range.
    Complete TE. Good size and better than average (borderline elite) agility.

    I also like the idea of pairing him up with a fellow Husky. They already played multiple years together, so would have a natural advantage starting out in the offense this season.

    The Metcalf kid is….. an awesome physical specimen.

  15. GoHawksDani

    I know Metcalf is an elite athlete and the best mutant ninja turtle warrior dude. But I think he’s far from the best FOOTBALL player in this group. And I don’t care about guys with great athletic potential, I want guys with great football potential.
    I wouldn’t be happy with a Metcalf pick. Even if they’d pick him at 40.
    As for the WRs, I’d love Campbell or McLaurin. These guys seem like they could become something special. If they’re on the board early second round, I’d run and pick one of them.
    If we want to go in a different direction with our first pick, I’d try to get Deebo, or Hall later (3rd round maybe?), or Boykin can be interesting too.
    I’d like an explosive great 3rd WR who might be able to fill in Baldwin’s void if Doug will retire…BUT not sure how much opportunities would a #3 WR get in this offense. If Schotty and Russ can spread the ball equally between Lockett, Baldwin and a rookie (if he plays great), then bring it on! But I’m not sure how much passing will be going on and how many opportunities a 3rd WR would get.

    As for TEs, I’m pretty much set on this trio: Moreau, Sample, Wesco.
    Moreau feels like the best athlete amongst them. Sample is the best “Miller-type” TE who can block really well but also make some nice catches. Wesco is the most interesting. He could be a hybrid TE/FB guy. He’s not fast, but not that slow either. He can block well, he is alright catching the ball. If he can also run a bit, he could be a really interesting prospect who can also give a different vibe than Dissly or Vannett.

    As for unique guys on offense: Imagine Campbell a super fast dude who can run and catch also (jet sweeps, go routes, deep crossing with Lockett) AND Wesco who can catch, block, run. I-WOULD-ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT DUO as our rookie offensive weapons.

    If Grier goes early, not sure who could we pick as a QB…but if we doesn’t get a QB this year, a draft like this would be heaven for me:
    Trading back twice to around the 40th pick and picking up picks in these rounds: 3, 4, 5, 6 (first trade 3+6, second 4+5)
    2nd round: Campbell (WR)
    3rd round: Wren/Ominehu (DT)
    3rd round: Winovich (EDGE)
    4th: Mack (LB)
    4th: Daniel Wise (DT)
    5th: Peters/Isaiah Johnson (although he’ll probably go sooner)/Lonnie Johnson (CB)
    5th: Wesco (TE)
    6th: Alec Ingold (FB)

    Speed from Campbell, Winovich seems like a relatively safe target with limited upside, Mack is probably the only LB who can be helpful to us and doesn’t go in round one (he has some limitations but good in coverage). CB guys all fit our type. Doubling down on the inside. I feel with Green, Clark, Jones, Jefferson, Winovich, Martin we have an OK outside rusher group. Reed is solid on the inside, Poona is intriguing, but we lack quality depth and I’d love a couple more big bodies there with some upside. Wren is a big boy almost 320 lbs with great movement skills is an interesting combo. If he’s not available then Ominehu would be fine too.
    In the later round, Wise or Hill could be good too.
    And last but not least: Give this run game a bit more push and Russ a couple of safety blanket checkdown guys.
    Ingold and Wesco could line up at the same time with Penny as the back. Campbell and Lockett as WRs.

    I would love this…ton of possibility:
    1, Full protection with Ingold and Wesco stays for passpro. Penny runs a shorter route. Campbell run a go and Lockett a post route for example.
    2, Motion Wesco, run with Penny, Wesco can help clear the LB/secondary guys and Ingold can be a lead blocker.
    3, Fake to Penny and hit Campbell for a slant (Wesco can be the checkdown, Ingold can help block)
    4, Motion Campbell for a fake jet sweep, fake to Penny and hit Lockett for a deep pass
    5, Fake to Penny and pitch to Wesco
    6, Motion Campbell to the back. Fake to Penny, fake the pitch to Campbell and hit Wesco for a deeper slant

    You could throw the screen to a lot of guys. You could do the jet sweep with Lockett and Campbell. You can throw a pass to the backs. You could run with multiple guys or just ask for full protection.
    Obviously it would only work if Ingold would be a pretty good FB and Wesco could block and catch well (and even run a little)

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